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Trove of Chinese Classical Texts Comes to Stanford


Stanford researchers, instructors and students interested in Chinese classical texts will soon have convenient access to a vast number of Chinese rare books. The East Asia Library is only the second repository in North America of the Reproductions of Chinese Rare Editions Series (Zhonghua zaizao shanben), a series that reproduces hundreds of rare books titles printed in the Tang, Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties. In the U.S., only Harvard-Yenching Library houses this series other than Stanford.

The Reproductions of Chinese Rare Editions Series (Zhonghua zaizao shanben) is a project started in 2002, sponsored by the Chinese government and published by National Library of China to conserve existing rare books, forestall any future losses, and make these resources accessible to more users. When it is completed, the Series will have five parts: publications from the Tang and Song Dynasties, Jin and Yuan Dynasties, the Ming Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, and written documents of the Ethnic Minorities. Each of these five parts is further divided into classics, history, philosophy, and literature. Stanford has acquired the first two parts of the Series, including 758 titles of rare books in 9,131 volumes.  The volumes arrived on campus recently and are expected to make their way to stacks and the online catalog in Fall Quarter.

“The acquisitions of this set greatly enhances the strength of our collection on pre-modern China, which has been a weak area up to now,’’ said Dongfang Shao, Director of the East Asia Library. He added that these acquisitions would help Stanford meet the growing demand from faculty and graduate students in Chinese studies for Chinese classical text and historical materials.

Before the Series project, it would have been extremely difficult for individual scholars to gain access to these rare books, which are scattered in libraries and museums across China, often in incomplete sets.  Now, with the support of many rare-book holding institutions in China, complete titles and sets are brought together in the printed Series. The reproduction provides access to an extraordinary cultural heritage to a broad audience via up-to-date reprinting technologies.

According to Michael Keller, University Librarian, the Series is among the most valuable holdings of the East Asia Library so far, and well serves the needs of Stanford researchers to access first-hand research materials.  Stanford’s Libraries are especially grateful to the Ministry of Culture of the Peoples Republic of China for facilitating this acquisition from the National Library of China.

For more information about the Reproductions of Chinese Rare Editions Series, please contact Dr. Dongfang Shao,, (650) 724-1928.

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